PANTONE Colors of the Year 2000 - 2016

Pantone seems to be doing its part to further gender equality, considering its 2016 Color of the Year is a two-fer – Serenity and Rose Quartz.

In other words, soft blue and pale pink will reign supreme next year. In unveiling the 2016 standouts, Pantone noted that “we are experiencing gender blur as it relates to fashion.” Given that, the double billing is meant to be in sync with “societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumers’ increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage that challenge traditional color associations.”

Heavy as that might sound, in recent months an assortment of designers has marched models down the runway in variations of pale pink. Miu Miu, J.W. Anderson, Victoria Beckham, Jil Sander and Roksanda Ilincic have offered their own take on the key color. The soft hue is also aining fans with brides-to-be. This summer, Beatrice Borromeo went with a pale pink Valentino gown to wed Pierre Casiraghi.

On a more mainstream level, a few weeks ago, the much-watched Victoria’s Secret fashion show featured an entire section dedicated to Pink USA. And not ones to miss out on passing trends, Kendall and Kylie Jenner included traces of the pale pink in their debut contemporary collection.

Pantone’s decision to select two colors as Color of the Year was a first for the company in its 16-year history of awarding that title. The increasing demand for gender equality and unisex clothing seem custom fit for Pantone’s combination of pink and blue. And Pantone Color Institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman emphasized the importance of looking at them together, during an interview Thursday. “We do keep our finger on the pulse of what people are talking about, what they’re saying, how they’re feeling and we try to really answer those needs so the symbolism of each color is very important to us.” she said. “These colors have the opposition of warm and cool, they speak to health and wellbeing and all the positive aspects that are so necessary in our lives today with all the turmoil that’s going on. People are looking for something that will soothe and calm us.”

Further explaining the psychological aspects of Serenity and Rose Quartz, she said, “When you use colors that are at opposite sides of the color wheel, what you’re doing is reinforcing the opposite color. You’re reinforcing the serenity, the tranquility that the blue contains putting pink with it. You know the beauty of the blue sky. And you’re doing the same thing for Rose Quartz, by complimenting it with a cooling element on the opposite side of the color wheel. It’s a delicate balance that exists between the two and they support each other. Support is an important word.”

Pantone’s two favorites for 2016 also seem to wink at fashion’s athleisure trend. Eiseman said, “Rose is also an embracing color, reflecting wellness, which of course is a big issue with everybody. With the tranquility of the blue, you get a kind of soothing feeling of order, composure and peace. We thought that really was tantamount to putting these two colors together and presenting them.”

Light blue has also been gaining ground on spring runways like Chanel, in stores and with celebrities like Taylor Swift, Halle Berry and Chanel Iman, who have all worn Serenity as of late. Serenity might be just the balm, if only an aesthetic one, for the ongoing political and economic instability many in the world are facing. According to Pantone Color Institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman,“As the name suggests, Serenity is a calming color that plays to the whole idea that we know we’re still living in turbulent times. Blues simply relay that feeling of relaxation.”

Through a collaboration with the Crewest Studio, Pantone has recruited three muralists – Victor Quinonez, Werc Alvarez and the artist known as “Man One” – to create street art using Rose Quartz and Serenity. Their creations are being unveiled this week in New York City, Miami and Venice Beach, Calif.